Vaccination and screening could nearly wipe out cervical cancer in North America in the next 20 years and rid the world of the disease within the next century, researchers say.
In a new study, the researchers assessed the potential impacts of the World Health Organization's draft strategy for cervical cancer elimination, which calls for 90 percent of girls to be vaccinated against human papillomavirus, or HPV, by 2030.
HPV causes most cervical cancer cases.
The WHO plan also calls for 70 percent of women to be screened for cervical cancer once or twice in their lifetime, and for 90 percent of women with precancerous lesions or cervical cancer to receive appropriate treatment.
With HPV vaccination alone, cervical cancer cases would fall 89 percent within a century in 78 countries hardest-hit by the disease. That's 60 million cases of cervical cancer prevented, according to the report.
With the added tests and treatment of precancerous lesions, cervical cancer cases would fall by 97 percent and 72 million cases would be prevented over the next century.
And with an increase in appropriate treatment, 62 million cervical cancer deaths would be prevented, according to a pair of studies published Jan. 30 in The Lancet.
"Our results suggest that to eliminate cervical cancer, it will be necessary to achieve both high vaccination coverage and a high uptake of screening and treatment, especially in countries with the highest burden of the disease," said research team co-director Marc Brisson, a professor at Laval University in Quebec, Canada.
WHO's strategy is to be presented for adoption at the World Health Assembly in Geneva, Switzerland, in May.
"If the strategy is adopted and applied by member states, cervical cancer could be eliminated in high-income countries by 2040 and across the globe within the next century, which would be a phenomenal victory for women's health," Brisson said in a university news release.
"However, this can only be achieved with considerable international financial and political commitment, in order to scale up prevention and treatment," he added.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more on cervical cancer prevention.
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